Bane of Kings reviews Malediction by CZ Dunn, an audio drama published by Black Library.
“A slow-paced, interesting story that is unfortunately flawed.” ~The Founding Fields
Malediction is the first Audio Drama published by Black Library that I had the chance to listen to in a while, the last being Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Butcher’s Nails. Although it may not be as enjoyable as the previous title, it isn’t a complete disappointment, as there are still some strong moments in this Audio Drama. Whilst it may not be perfect for any newcomers, Malediction is a welcome listen for fans who know the background for the Dark Angels and are familiar with their lore. Although it doesn’t feature a large amount of the sons of the Lion itself, they still play a crucial role in this tale.
On the world of Amadis, veteran Imperial Guard officer Regan Antigone is being honoured for his role in the planet’s liberation from the forces of Chaos, some twenty-five years earlier. But when his old comrade, Master Tigrane of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter, arrives to join the festivities and asks to hear the glorious tale told once more, Antigone falters. With the details of his account cast under close scrutiny and with the judgement of the Imperium hanging over him, will his noble reputation remain intact?
A Warhammer 40,000 audio drama by C Z Dunn. Read by Seán Barrett, Rupert Degas and Saul Reichlin. Produced by Heavy Entertainment for Black Library.
Fans expecting a Dark Angels bolter-porn story or something along those lines, will be disappointed. There’s very little Dark Angels in appearance for this to be labelled as a full “Dark Angels” story, but without the appearance of the Dark Angels, then this simply wouldn’t work. People who know their back-story already probably know the established character that features in this audio drama, and even though his appearance is brief, it’s still a key role. The action is mainly focused upon Imperial Guard Officer Regan Antigone and his companions in the Imperial Guard in the past, twenty-five years earlier – with very little battle scenes happening in the present.
The story is a little straightforward,despite the fact it involves a lot of deception, both on the battlefield and off the battlefield. Regan Antigone is a strong character, and it is interesting to see how a war hero’s life is affected after the end of the war, especially with the passing of his two sons. Even though I was slightly disappointed that this audio drama didn’t focus more heavily on the Dark Angels, I really enjoyed CZ Dunn’s take on the Imperial Guard and trench warfare, the sound effects and the description of the scenery really helps you get a look into the gruesome horrors that the Guardsmen had to endure in the trenches, and reminds you that you would not want to be in their place.
I did have a few issues with Malediction though, and as I said, it’s not perfect. It’s never quite clear why Master Tigrane returns after so long to investigate the truths of Regan’s tales, especially as the reason why he is there should have warranted the use of an Interrogator-Chaplain, rather than a sole Company Commander. Whilst we’re on the presence of the Space Marines, it’s also never made clear why Cypher, the Fallen Dark Angel established character that I mentioned earlier, turns up, as it’s presumably it’s not to save Amadis. I would have loved to get a bit of an insight from both Tigrane and Cypher (Cypher in particular) for their presence on Amadis, even though I understand that the story’s mainly focusing on Regan Antigone.
Regarding the Voice-Acting, it’s enjoyable enough to listen to in Malediction. Tigrane’s voice matches the voice of a Space Marine, and the Imperial Guardsmen have enough differences in their voices so that you can tell them apart without having CZ Dunn to add “[Character A] said”, after every spoken sentence. There’s a variety of accents employed that I haven’t come across before in Black Library Audio Dramas, which is a nice touch – Scottish and Irish both feature here.
All said, Malediction is an average tale that I thought would have probably benefited more as a short story or even a novella. The Audio Drama formatting didn’t work for me, despite the fact that it gave me something to listen to other than my normal music on the way to College and back. I’ll give it another go if it’s released in the aforementioned formats later next year and see if the tale improves. Whilst it’s still listenable and not entirely worthy of a one or two star review, Malediction is not quite as good as some of the stuff that I’ve given three stars to. I’ll give CZ Dunn another go in the future though, especially seeing as he is a New York Times bestselling editor (CZ Dunn is the penname of Christian Dunn).
A final point, which has more to do with the production of the audio than the actual audio-drama, is that on the copy of the CD that I got in exchange for a review, there wasn’t any designated track names for the different chapters, if you will. They were simply labelled “Track 01″, “Track 02,” with no information given for who created it and the album title as well when I synced it with my IPod, meaning that I had to edit it manually on ITunes. EJ Davies has provided a list of suggested Track names though, which helped me out with organizing them on my IPod – and I suggest that you take them into account as well if you have the same issue as mine.